An Open Letter to My Semi-Athletic Female Body

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Dear athletic female body,

I want to start off with an apology. I’m sorry for the moments when I neglect to care for you, to fuel you properly, to nurture you and respect you. I’m sorry for the mornings that I wake up and look in the mirror and think poorly of you. I apologize for the moments when I fail to recognize your strength and am quick to judge your faults. I confess that I have compared you countless times to the graceful and elegant shapes of Nike models on magazine covers which has, admittedly, stolen away untold moments of my pride and joy for you.

Arms, you may never be weapons of mass destruction like Michelle Obama’s, because you and I both know how difficult tricep push-ups are. I beam with pride when you survive your section in barre class, even if I turn you into jello and you collapse under the pressure of baby weights (I’m not even embarrassed). I appreciate you for carrying my heavy, filled-to-the-brim paper bags for me when I sometimes (read: always) overestimate the amount of groceries I need for the week. I know that I should stop judging you when you look awkward in “female cut” t-shirts; it’s their fault, not yours. I love you for your ability to push, pull, carry, hug, embrace and hold the plank position. Thank you for being strong enough to reach for help and for being able to hold the beautiful people and things I love in my life.

Legs, though you may lack what some would call grace, I am pleased to say that we have won most of our daily battles against gravity. However, when I find that I have fallen (whether or not it was self-induced) I thank you for your strength and courage to pick me back up. Right Thigh, I know you might not always want to hang out with Left Thigh, but you will be together for better or for worse, so you’re going to have to just deal with it. No gap will (probably ever) come between you. I know you are not quite as slim and slender as Pinterest Model Legs, but I hope you realize how tough and truly amazing you are. You have helped me hike up mountains and sprint across finish lines. I am proud to compare you to tree trunks instead of twigs; you are sturdy, dependable and a constant reminder of how much I have grown (I promise I won’t cut you open to count the rings, though).

Back, I’m sorry for when I hurt you because I’m fairly certain that I do several workout moves incorrectly. I’m working on it, I promise, but I hope you’re okay with aspirin as a quick fix in the meantime.

Chest, I’m sorry for squishing you into sweaty sports bras on a regular basis. I realize that it probably is not the most comfortable situation for you. I also want to thank you for being humble. I know the boys may not really notice you/your milkshake may not bring them to the yard, but you give me the opportunity to show off my shining personality instead.

Butt, it would be okay with me if you were just a little more humble so you can give boys a chance to get to know me for my aforementioned shining personality.

Stomach, thank you for forgiving me when I stress eat at work or binge on carbs after a long run. I may not say it much, but I admire your ability to crunch, twist and bend – especially towards the end of a workout when you would much rather lay flat. I know I work you hard, but it’s only because I know you will always put up a fight and handle your own. Please say hello to our mutual friends, Abs, and let them know that they are more than welcome to come make an appearance again whenever they want to, but it would be particularly nice if they visited during beach season.

Feet, listen, it’s not that I’m neglecting you. We have gone through so much and experienced many wonderful miles together. It’s just that sometimes I lack the flexibility to touch you with my hands and say hello. I know I should treat you better and get you more pedicures, but we both know that you are ticklish and make me jumpy. I think we learned our lesson from that one time when you almost accidentally kicked the pedicurist in the face.

Hips, we both know I can’t dance. Thank you for not being embarrassed after a few drinks when I attempt to shake you around Shakira-style anyways.

Head, please remember to extend the kindness, generosity and forgiveness that you lend to others onto yourself. Try your best to drown out the voice that says harsh words like, “can’t”, “ugly” and “never.” Realize that your mentality is over half the battle. Be stronger than the unkind and untrue thoughts that try to manipulate you. They are bullies; they are wrong. Preach self-acceptance and love, especially in those moments (and there will be those moments) when it feels hardest to do so.

Body, this is just to say I love you for your faults and flaws and little idiosyncrasies that make you all my own. Thank you for withstanding bruises and injuries and having patience with me when I forget to stretch or eat enough kale. I confess that I am sometimes harsh on you, but the truth is that I do my best to be in complete and utter acceptance of how you are right now, how you were yesterday and how you will be tomorrow. Please know that you are the greatest instrument I own. Thank you for empowering me on a daily basis. Thank you for your endurance and for your strength. You may not be perfect, but you’re mine and I am so lucky to have you.

Mental Health Think & Feel

About Cass Gunderson

Cass hails from the southwest suburbs as a proud White Sox fan and a graduate of University of Illinois. By day, Cass is a full-time student at the University of Chicago's Booth Graduate Business School. Before deciding to throw away all her money to go back to school, Cass worked for a private equity firm that buys technology companies. Raised as the youngest in a family of older brothers, Cass grew up a tomboy and remains active in sports. To her mother’s satisfaction, Cass learned how to embrace her feminine side in college and has developed an interest for fitness activities that require spandex as opposed to knee-length basketball shorts. In her spare time, she runs a lot because it is cheaper than paying for real therapy. Cass has completed four marathons and one ultramarathon (she claims she'll never do this to herself again, but that's TBD). She can still be found on the basketball courts in Lincoln Park wearing knee-length basketball shorts.

9 thoughts on “An Open Letter to My Semi-Athletic Female Body

  1. You made me cry! Who’s your editor?? But seriously, you’re a superstar and I like you (and this blog post, specifically) a lot.

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